Top baseball free agent Bryce Harper has waited until February to sign, and reports earlier this week indicated that the player was close to a decision. Now, we have another report indicating that Harper is down to just two teams.
Harper is choosing between the Philadelphia Phillies and San Francisco Giants, reporter Bob Nightengale of USA Today said Tuesday in a radio interview with KNBR in San Francisco. Nightengale also said that the Washington Nationals, Harper’s current team, are out.
Nightengale, who has broken various stories throughout Harper’s free agency, said in the interview that the Giants will offer Harper a shorter-term deal, while the Phillies will likely offer the outfielder a longer-term contract.
“What their game plan is they’ll probably offer a 5- 6-year deal at good money,” Nightengale said of the Giants. “Probably $30 million a year or so, or probably more even, to try to get him. And say, ‘You know what, do you want a short-term contract to come to San Francisco, or do you want a long-term contract and go to Philadelphia.’”
Nightengale went on to declare the pursuit of Harper as a “coin flip” between the two teams.
“I think for the Phillies to get Harper, they’re going to have to grossly outbid the Giants to get him.”
But since Phillies owner John Middleton declared his intention to spend “stupid money” on the team this offseason, Philadelphia may find themselves in position to outspend the Giants for Harper.
Harper is seen, by the reporter, as being motivated by becoming the “face of the franchise” for the Giants, and perhaps winning a playoff series with them, which he never did during his seven-year career with Washington. Signing a short-term deal would also give Harper a chance to test free agency again sooner.
The same reporter had said, in USA Today in January, that the Phillies were “a clear-cut favorite” to get Harper, coming out of their meeting with him in Las Vegas.
Online sportsbooks such as BetOnline.ag have declared the Giants favorites to sign Machado, as reported on Twitter by NBC Philadelphia’s Corey Seidman, but such markets are considered less reliable than established Las Vegas oddsmakers.
The other major free agent this offseason, infielder Manny Machado, also remains unsigned, as do more than 100 free agent baseball players who are still looking for teams. The Phillies are also pursuing Machado and met with him in November at their stadium in Philadelphia.